An Urban myth

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Bruce Urban felt the need to challenge himself.

He had just lost out on a chance to buy his hometown Calgary Stampeders.

As a teenager he had grown up watching the Stamps, and even sold popcorn at their games. But the Stamps rejected him.

The National Lacrosse League and Edmonton didn't.

And now, as owner and governor of the Edmonton Rush, Urban is up for another challenge. He's taking on the rest of the NLL ownership group.

"If I'm going to sit in a boardroom in Caesars Palace for three days, they're going to hear what I have to say," said Urban, whose club begins its inaugural NLL season tomorrow night at Rexall Place against the San Jose Stealth.

SIT BACK AND OBSERVE

Most newcomers to an established organization sit back and observe the proceedings, perhaps quietly making a suggestion or two.

Not Urban. He's been outspoken from Day 1 with his own ideas on how the NLL should do business.

Urban has touted an expanded regular season (from 16 to 20 games) and longer playoff series (best-of-three rounds instead of single-game elimination). He has a whole briefcase full of ideas and promotions - including the Orange County Chopper - that will be unveiled on opening night.

There will also be a visit from the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in March.

His mouth has got him into trouble, too.

Urban was fined by the league for announcing that the 2005 draft would take place in Edmonton before the NLL was ready to send out the word. He was hit in the wallet again when he launched his team's training camp before league guidelines permitted.

"Instead of sitting back, I'm going to stand up. I'd rather be a doer and I don't mind being vocal," said Urban.

"Any thing I say is not derogatory towards the league. I want the NLL to get to another level. You don't have to be a 20-year governor to look at situations and have an opinion on them.

"I think some of the guys who are running teams maybe don't have that entrepreneurial view."

Urban's built his dirt-lot operation into a huge retail outlet for recreational vehicles. In turn that led to Urban's interest in real estate, in which his fortune grew considerably.

Now he's turning his knowledge and creativity to the NLL. Washroom screens at the Saddledome in Calgary are showing a cow being branded by a Rush logo in an effort to launch the Battle of Alberta - lacrosse edition.

"I don't do anything in business that I don't have some fun with," said Urban.

A THROWBACK

He's somewhat of a throwback to the early days of the NLL - a one-man owner - a tribute to the original mom-and-pop operations that once dominated the league.

But his business savvy and deep pockets allow him to stand among the corporate giants, including the NHL teams that run NLL clubs as a sideshow.

"I think we can be a little more risque than what an NHL owner would be. We're not hindered by that," said Urban.

The last thing he wants to do is follow in the footsteps of failures like short-guy basketball, pro soccer or any flash in the pan sports, such as roller hockey.

"People have asked me if I'm nervous considering what has happened before and I tell them 'absolutely not,' " Urban said.

"People will embrace this sport and they'll love it. We plan on making Edmonton proud.

"I want the fans to get more than they bargained for. I want kids in the stands who admire players to be able to get close to them."


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